Not all that we order online shopping is worth of quality as it appears, Unscrupulous companies, mostly located in China, will use stolen images to promote all kinds of clothing from swimsuits to evening wear at deeply discounted prices. The scam works is pretty straightforward.

The photos we see in ecommerce shopping are generally taken from other retailers, popular Instagram users or magazines, are often not representative of the actual product they are selling. They may be similar, but the final product is often radically different including a different cut, pattern or material. To make matters worse, the sold product is often a much lower quality and, according to several reports, many suffer from a strong chemical smell.

Earlier this week, Sapna Maheshwari and Beimeng Fu at Buzzfeed took a deep dive into the world overseas clothing companies. This has led to a tremendous backlash against these companies, including thousands of negative reviews and countless investigative reports.

But that these have not stopped the companies from doing brisk business. These sites remains attractive new buyers and, according to dress shop owners dealing with the aftermath, disappointing a large number of those customers.

These are largely powered by Facebook ads, the sites continue to attract However, the question arises here is fashion isn’t the only industry that has a serious problem? Whether you’re buying financial services, solar panels, utensils, furniture, a service or just about anything else, there’s likely a problem with plagiarism of marketing materials and it’s time for buyers and legitimate companies to fight back.

It confuses the customers; the false are more attractive than the authentic. The issue is fairly simple. On the Internet, it is very easy for almost anyone can create a business and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the largest competitors in their field. The competition is made tuff with few cost of a website and some ads.

This can be great when a small, legitimate business finds ways to needle at or even overtake entrenched players. The web can allow entrepreneurs to break into difficult fields and revolutionize stagnant industries.

However, it can be a serious problem when less-than-ethical companies begin to take shortcuts not just in their business, but in their marketing.

In many ways, content creation is still the great equalizer. It takes time, skill and/or money to produce high-quality, informative content for a site. Whether it’s taking great pictures of products, writing marketing copy or even the design and layout of the site itself, it requires a lot of effort to fill a site with great material.

Unfortunately, many sites take shortcuts here and simply look to their established competitors. There they do one of the following:

  • Attempt to duplicate the site as much as possible.
  • Create an original site but copy images, text or more from the site for their own.
  • Pattern their site after the original, using the same format, including the same information and pages, but rewriting most or all of the content.

The first two are clear cases of copyright infringement and happen with frightening regularity. Upstarts, usually one or two person companies with little time or money invested, simply lift from their competitors in hopes of jumpstarting a successful business.

While the third isn’t likely a copyright infringement, unless the rewriting is very clear, it poses issues of its own. When multiple sites in a field follow the same format, it’s hard for any to stand out. One of the key reasons for creating unique marketing content is to create something unique and useful, this behaviour blunts that.

It puts customers at risk and in great difficulty in finding the authentic and in denying the fake and in turn causes loss of recognition and hope on traders.

But while this is bad news for legitimate competitors, it’s even worse news for consumers. When websites are the only easy way consumers have to compare sites, these kinds of shortcuts hide the companies that are likely to do poor quality work.

After all, if a company can’t be bothered to create their own content (or at least pay to have it created), then it’s likely they’ll take similar shortcuts with customers.

In short, if the Internet is the great equalizer, then plagiarism, just as in the classroom, is an attempt to tilt the playing field to favour those without the interest or talent to create their own work.

Keywords: plagiarism, e-commerce, copyrights, infringement, marketing